A PYMNTS Company

Beware of Populist Antitrust Law

 |  January 23, 2019

By Richard Epstein

Tim Wu’s recent attacks hi-tech firms overstates the benefits and ignores the high costs of an aggressive application of the antitrust laws

The Badness of Bigness?

Professor Tim Wu of Columbia University has emerged as America’s most vocal champion of populist antitrust policies.  His recent book—The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust law in the New Gilded Age— is a direct takeoff of the work of Louis D. Brandeis, who coined this phrase “the curse of bigness,” before he joined the Supreme Court in 1916.. Wu is on record, for predicting that the consolidation of American businesses is the prelude to more inequality and human suffering, leading in some instances to the rise of fascism. To him, we are now repeating all the vices of the Gilded Age that followed the Civil War, so that we are living our current nightmare, in his words, “as if trapped in a bad movie sequel.” Many critics have praised his vigorous defense of antitrust revivalism.  My Wall Street Journal review of the book is an exception to the general praise. Indeed, Wu’s dramatic account is suspect on both historical and analytical grounds.

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